President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday directed that the nation’s Democracy Day will, henceforth, hold on June 12 of every year as against the current arrangement where the ceremony holds on May 29.
He said the change in date is to honour late MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
The president also said Abiola would be awarded with the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) title posthumously.
The President disclosed these in a statement he personally signed. He said he reached the decisions after due consultations.
Apart from Abiola, Buhari said he would also honour his running mate, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, and the late human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, with the second highest national honour, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
Read the statement below:
For the past 18 years, Nigerians have been celebrating May 29, as Democracy Day. That was the date when, for the second time in our history, an elected civilian administration took over from a military government. The first time this happened was on October 21, 1979.
But in the view of Nigerians, as shared by this administration, June 12, 1993 was far more symbolic of democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29 or even the October 1.
June 12, 1993 was the day when Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our independence.
The fact that the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then military government does not distract from the democratic credentials of that process.
Accordingly, after due consultations, the Federal, Government has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day.
Therefore, the government has decided to award posthumously the highest honour of the land, GCFR, to the late Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 cancelled elections.
His running mate as Vice President, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, is also to be invested with a GCON.
Furthermore, the tireless fighter for human rights and the actualisation of the June 12 elections and indeed for democracy in general, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, is to be awarded the GCON.
The investiture will take place on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, a date which in future years will replace May 29 as a National Public Holiday in celebration of Nigeria’s Democracy Day.
The late Abiola died in detention while struggling to actualise his mandate as contained in the annulled election.